The talent at SCPA

March 23, 2011

Mo`olelo had the opportunity to work with students from the San Diego School for the Creative and Performing Arts as part of our Three Part Arts education program for Stick Fly, funded by Qualcomm, Inc.

For Part 3 of the program, we asked the students to write a next scene for the play. It could take place directly after the last scene of the play or years later. The students wrote wonderfully creative and insightful pieces… in only 10 minutes!! Here are just a couple of their pieces. Huge kudos to all the students, faculty and staff at SCPA!

By Danielle Levin:
Joe walks back into the house, 5 months later for Christmas vacation. Mrs. LeVay is walking on the beach outside. Cheryl is stocking the cabinets and starting the coffee. There is an undecorated Christmas tree in the corner.  Mrs.LeVay comes in.

MRS LEVAY: Joe, be a darling and go fetch our bags and set them in the room.

She enters the kitchen. Cheryl and Mrs.LeVay see each other and share an awkward face off. This is the first time they have seen each other since the news came out.

By Anita Lewis:
MS ELLIE: We need to talk about this Mrs. LeVay.
MRS LEVAY: I don’t wana talk to you right now Ellie.
MS ELLIE: Look, I’m sorry okay. I never meant for you to be hurt like this I really —
MRS LEVAY: ELLIE! Just stop okay, stop apologizing. I hear “I’m sorry” everyday Ellie, so unless you wanna make things clear to me, I think you need to leave.
MS ELLIE: (Sees the hurt)  Mrs.LeVay I —
MRS LEVAY: Save it, it’s okay. This is what I get for marrying one of the most respected neurosurgeons of our time. You know, I always wondered what he saw when he looked at you, or that baby girl. I told myself what a generous man I married, no one would ever think to send their maid’s daughter to  one of the best schools in the country. He was being a Father to that child, and here I was thinking he was just being generous… Look Ellie, it’s getting late. you should get to bed.

By William Corkery:
At Joseph LeVay’s funeral.
FLIP: Hey Kent. (Kent slightly nods to Flip). So I heard you’re a best seller.
KENT: Can we not? Just today don’t mess with me.
FLIP: Mess with you? I’m just asking about your life man.
KENT: I know you’re only asking because I’m a writer. I’m not a real man to you.
FLIP: Sorry.
Kent is taken aback.
KENT: Sorry?
FLIP: Yeah. I just don’t feel like fighting at dad’s funeral.
KENT: Where’s Kimber?
FLIP: She’s in the car. She said the rain will… defrizz her hair or some shit like that. Where’s Taylor?
KENT: She’s in the Amazon catching a new type of fly…My book’s doing well.

They stand there in silence as lights fade to black.


98% audience capacity!

March 23, 2011

Thank you to everyone who attended Stick Fly!
The production and education program were huge successes thanks to everyone behind the scenes, the talent on stage and the fabulous audiences! Here are some of the results of Stick Fly by the numbers:

** 14 of the 20 performances were sold out by the time advance online sales were closed for the day

** There were 1,993 audiences served (that’s advance reservations plus walk-ins), and an achievement of 98% audience capacity

** 5% of the audience were tourists from outside of San Diego County

** 324 high school students attended the show and the Three Part Arts Education Outreach workshops.

** Playwright Lydia R. Diamond spoke following 2 performances, and marveled at how diverse our audiences are.

** You can read the reviews here.

Barbara Smith wrote  a wonderful review of STICK FLY in Voice and Viewpoint. You can find it here:

review by Jean Lowerison

March 16, 2011


THEATER REVIEW: Acting is fine all around in “Stick Fly” Jean Lowerison – SDGLN Theater Critic
March 16th, 2011

Photo credit: Mo’olelo Performing Company Liz Kelly and Matt Orduna

Family gatherings at Martha’s Vineyard are not unusual for American royalty like the Kennedys.

The LeVay clan is different – African-American, for one thing, and professional, and they’ve been weekending at the Vineyard for decades. Patriarch Joseph (Hassan El-Amin) secured access to the house by marrying up.

This weekend Mom is detained (for unknown reasons and for the duration, it turns out), but Joseph’s sons Flip (Matt Orduña) and Kent (Anthony Hawkins Woods) are along to introduce their girlfriends to their neurologist dad.

Together they stir up old hurts and new stresses, exhibit anger and jocularity and love in Lydia R. Diamond’s “Stick Fly,” playing at Mo’olelo Performing Company’s Tenth Avenue Theatre through March 20. Robert Barry Fleming directs.

Flip, like his dad a charmer and ladies’ man, is a plastic surgeon; girlfriend Kimber (Elizabeth M. Kelly) is white (though Flip amusingly insists she is “Italian”) and a professor, bright and a daughter of privilege herself. Flip has done the expected and is reaping the rewards of dad’s favor.

The younger Kent, in his early 30s, spurned dad’s plan for him – a career in law – and has set his sights on a writing career. Kent has brought along the proofs of his first novel to edit, but the tension between him and his father is palpable, the disappointment evident in every interaction.
Kent’s fiancée Taylor (Lorene Chesley) studies insects – house flies in particular – in grad school at Johns Hopkins. (The play’s title derives from a method of describing their flight patterns.)

This weekend the household is run by teenager Cheryl (Diona Reasonover), replacing her ailing mother, the family housekeeper. Cheryl is no intellectual slouch herself – she’s just graduated from a prestigious high school and is pondering college possibilities.

But family is family, no matter the color or economic status, and along with the banter this weekend, LeVay secrets will be revealed, wounds inflicted, even a few punches thrown as family dynamics are bared.

I suppose you could call “Stick Fly” an upper-class sitcom, but what sets it apart from most of that genre is playwright Diamond’s facility for clever, intelligent and engaging dialogue of the Aaron Sorkin variety, aided here by terrific production values including Fleming’s excellent direction.

David F. Weiner’s fine set design also deserves praise, though given the distance between the audience and the kitchen, a microphone in that area would be in order to facilitate comprehension of dialogue.

The acting is fine all around, but Reasonover’s whirlwind Cheryl deserves special mention for her characterization of an übercompetent teen with a chip on her shoulder.

Diamond’s female characters are better drawn than the men, and some may complain that there is no real plot, but the quality of the dialogue and the excellence of this production combine for an intellectually stimulating evening in the theater.

The details

“Stick Fly” plays through March 20 at The 10th Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Ave.

Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.

For tickets, call (619) 342-7395 or visit HERE.

Pat Launer on Stick Fly

March 13, 2011

“LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE” – La Jolla Playhouse & “STICK FLY” – Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company

When families find themselves cramped together in close quarters, temperatures inevitably rise, sparks fly, secrets are unearthed and havoc ensues. Sometimes, it’s a voyeuristic treat to watch a dysfunctional family unravel. At other times, not so much.

One of the most highly anticipated shows of the year was the world premiere musical, “Little Miss Sunshine,” at La Jolla Playhouse, based on the much-loved 2006 indie film. All the stars were aligned for a Broadway-bound blockbuster: terrific source material, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer/director James Lapine, a score by his frequent collaborator, composer/lyricist William Finn, and a cast with impressive Broadway credits.

But the result falls disappointingly flat. It’s lost all the quirky charisma of the original. This family isn’t eccentric; it’s garden variety, with a little exaggeration, and fairly colorless at that. We don’t come to care about their road-trip travails, and most disheartening of all, we’re not really committed to little Olive, the slightly chubby, highly precocious 10 year-old who convinces her family to drive from Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, so she can compete in one of those creepy kid beauty pageants.

There are a few touching or amusing moments, but no memorable songs (among the sometimes atonal offerings), and no knockout performances. The singing pseudo-Greek chorus is intrusive and repetitive. Otherwise, though, Lapine’s direction is quite imaginative.

The unequivocal stars of the show are the scenic and lighting designs, which brilliantly convey the ever-changing southwest landscape in this supposedly dark comic road trip. In its present form, the overly long, overly safe musical is nowhere near ready for Broadway primetime.

The hapless Hoovers at the La Jolla Playhouse are a far cry from the LeVay family that just settled into the 10th Avenue Theatre downtown, brought to us by Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company. In “Stick Fly,” the family is strictly upper crust, among the well-heeled, well-educated African Americans who’ve been summering on Martha’s Vineyard for a century.

During one incendiary weekend, when the two sons bring home their girlfriends – one black, one white – deep-rooted conflicts escalate, focused on race, class, skintone, parent-child relationships, and what it means to be a man.

Boston-based playwright Lydia Diamond has armed her riveting 2006 play with linguistic grenades, tossed into the psychological warfare among formidably smart, literate, caustic, wounded, complex characters. The barbs are hurtful, the plot turns unpredictable.

Under the intense, muscular direction of Robert Barry Fleming, the cast is stellar, each actor mining deep veins of anger, resentment and insecurity. When scabs are picked, metaphorical blood flows, and a large chunk of the history of blacks in America is exposed.

The takeaway from this week’s dramatic offerings is: Not all theatrical families are equally compelling and edifying.

The Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company production of “Stick Fly” runs through March 20 at the 10th Avenue Theatre downtown San Diego.
The world premiere of “Little Miss Sunshine” continues through March 27 at the La Jolla Playhouse.

© 2011 Pat Launer

Lydia in San Diego

March 13, 2011

The wonderful playwright of STICK FLY, Lydia R. Diamond, spent the past couple days with Mo`olelo. Taking time away from her teaching at Boston University, her writing and her family, Ms. Diamond spoke following the Friday and Saturday performances this past week and visited with the Mo`olelo Board of Trustees and donors during her whilrwind trip. Here are some photos from her time with us:

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Mo`olelo at our production of STICK FLY by Lydia R. Diamond and save $5.00 on your ticket!

Order your ticket online at
Click TICKETS on the left.
Scroll down and click Buy Tickets next to Thursday, March 17, 7:30 PM.
Input this coupon code: SF6172 and you’ll save $5 on every ticket in your order!
Follow the on screen instructions to complete your order through PayPal (be sure you fully complete the transaction. PayPal will ask you several times to confirm your payment. Your order isn’t final until you get to the last page which says you have made a payment to Mo`olelo).

Questions? Call us at 619-342-7395 or email


If Mo`olelo’s production of Lydia R. Diamond’s contentious family drama weren’t first rate (and it is), Diona Reasonover’s amazing performance would still make it a must see. She plays Cheryl, daughter of the maid at a Martha’s Vinyard vacation house, and moves non-stop, cleaning, cooking, taking orders from the only African-American family in the area. Like everyone else in a get-together that reveals mistakes and strips away secrets, she will emerge a different person at play’s end. Robert Barry Fleming doesn’t direct or act enough locally (reason: he’s drama dept. chair at USD). With a top flight cast (Hasan El-Amin, ditto on not acting enough, Lorene Chesley, Elizabeth M. Kelly, Matt Orduna, and Anthony Hawkins Woods) and design work (David F. Weiner’s well-stocked set and Ingrid Helton’s spot-on costumes), Fleming gives the play an expert staging.
Critic’s Pick. 

March 5 through March 20


  • Sundays at 2 p.m.
  • Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
  • Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., 619-342-7395

the chocolate voice

March 9, 2011

Check out the interview with Stick Fly playwright Lydia R. Diamond in the current issue of THE CHOCOLATE VOICE by Gwen Pierce.

Stick Fly Opening Night

March 7, 2011

Saturday, March 5 was the official Press Opening of STICK FLY! There was free cake in the lobby pre-show, a fabulous performance by the cast, beautifully directed by Robert Barry Fleming, followed by a post-show party coordinated by Krista Berry and hosted at Crab Hut at 532 Broadway. If you’ve never been to Crab Hut (, go now! This place is amazing. Great food, great vibe, great owners. Here are some photos from the evening…